Gulveig-heidr Her Identity With Aurboda Angrboda Hyrrokin The Myth Concerning The Sword Guardian And Fjalar

: Teutonic Mythology

The duty of the Vana-deities becomes even more plain, if it can be shown

that Gulveig-Heid is Gerd's mother; for Frey, supported by the

Vana-gods, then demands satisfaction for the murder of his own

mother-in-law. Gerd's mother is, in Hyndluljod, 30, called Aurboda, and

is the wife of the giant Gymer:

Freyr atti Gerdi,

Hon vor Gymis dottir,

iotna aettar

ok Aurbodu

It can, in fact, be demonstrated that Aurboda is identical with

Gulveig-Heid. The evidence is given below in two divisions. (a) Evidence

that Gulveig-Heid is identical with Angerboda, "the ancient one in the

Ironwood;" (b) evidence that Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is identical with

Aurboda, Gerd's mother.

(a) Gulveid-Heid identical with Angerboda.

Hyndluljod, 40, 41, says:

Ol ulf Loki

vid Angrbodu,

(enn Sleipni gat

vid Svadilfara);

eitt thotti skars

allra feiknazst

that var brodur fra

Byleistz komit.

Loki af hiarta

lindi brendu,

fann hann haalfsuidinn

hugstein konu;

vard Loptr kvidugr

af konu illri;

thadan er aa folldu

flagd hvert komit.

From the account we see that an evil female being (ill kona) had been

burnt, but that the flames were not able to destroy the seed of life in

her nature. Her heart had not been burnt through or changed to ashes. It

was only half-burnt (halfsvidinn hugsteinn), and in this condition it

had together with the other remains of the cremated woman been thrown

away, for Loke finds and swallows the heart.

Our ancestors looked upon the heart as the seat of the life principle,

of the soul of living beings. A number of linguistic phrases are founded

on the idea that goodness and evil, kindness and severity, courage and

cowardice, joy and sorrow, are connected with the character of the

heart; sometimes we find hjarta used entirely in the sense of soul, as

in the expression hold ok hjarta, soul and body. So long as the heart

in a dead body had not gone into decay, it was believed that the

principle of life dwelling therein still was able, under peculiar

circumstances, to operate on the limbs and exercise an influence on its

environment, particularly if the dead person in life had been endowed

with a will at once evil and powerful. In such cases it was regarded as

important to pierce the heart of the dead with a pointed spear (cp.

Saxo, Hist., 43, and No. 95).

The half-burnt heart, accordingly, contains the evil woman's soul, and

its influence upon Loke, after he has swallowed it, is most remarkable.

Once before when he bore Sleipner with the giant horse Svadilfare, Loke

had revealed his androgynous nature. So he does now. The swallowed heart

redeveloped the feminine in him (Loki lindi af brendu hjarta). It

fertilised him with the evil purposes which the heart contained. Loke

became the possessor of the evil woman (kvidugr af konu illri), and

became the father of the children from which the trolls (flagd) are

come which are found in the world. First among the children is mentioned

the wolf, which is called Fenrir, and which in Ragnarok shall cause

the death of the Asa-father. To this event point Njord's words about

Loke, in Lokasenna, str. 33: ass ragr er hefir born of borit. The

woman possessing the half-burnt heart, who is the mother or rather the

father of the wolf, is called Angerboda (ol ulf Loki vid Angrbodu). N.

M. Peterson and other mythologists have rightly seen that she is the

same as "the old one," who in historical times and until Ragnarok dwells

in the Ironwood, and "there fosters Fenrer's kinsmen" (Voeluspa, 39), her

own offspring, which at the close of this period are to issue from the

Ironwood, and break into Midgard and dye its citadels with blood

(Voeluspa, 30).

The fact that Angerboda now dwells in the Ironwood, although there on a

former occasion did not remain more of her than a half-burnt heart,

proves that the attempt to destroy her with fire was unsuccessful, and

that she arose again in bodily form after this cremation, and became the

mother and nourisher of were-wolves. Thus the myth about Angerboda is

identical with the myth about Gulveig-Heid in the two characteristic


Unsuccessful burning of an evil woman.

Her regeneration after the cremation.

These points apply equally to Gulveig-Heid and to Angerboda, "the old

one in the Ironwood."

The myth about Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, as it was remembered in the first

period after the introduction of Christianity, we find in part

recapitulated in Helgakvida Hundingsbane, i. 37-40, where Sinfjotle

compares his opponent Gudmund with the evil female principle in the

heathen mythology, the vala in question, and where Gudmund in return

compares Sinfjotle with its evil masculine principle, Loke.

Sinfjotle says:

Thu vart vaulva

i Varinseyio,

scollvis kona

bartu scrauc saman;

* * * * *

Thu vart, en scetha,

scass valkyria,

autul, amatlig

at Alfaudar;

mundo einherjar

allir beriaz,

svevis kona,

um sakar thinar.

Nio attu vith

a neri Sagu

ulfa alna

ec var einn fathir theirra.

Gudmund's answer begins:

Fadir varattu


The evil woman with whom one of the two heroes compares the other is

said to be a vala, who has practised her art partly on Varin's Isle

partly in Asgard at Alfather's, and there she was the cause of a war in

which all the warriors of Asgard took part. This refers to the war

between the Asas and Vans. It is the second feud among the powers of


The vala must therefore be Gulveig-Heid of the myth, on whose account

the war between the Asas and Vans broke out, according to Voeluspa. Now

it is said of her in the lines above quoted, that she gave birth to

wolves, and that these wolves were "fenrisulfar." Of Angerboda we

already know that she is the mother of the real Fenris-wolf, and that

she, in the Ironwood, produces other wolves which are called by Fenrer's

name (Fenris kindir--Voeluspa). Thus the identity of Gulveig-Heid and

Angerboda is still further established by the fact that both the one and

the other is called the mother of the Fenris family.

The passage quoted is not the only one which has preserved the memory of

Gulveig-Heid as mother of the were-wolves. Volsungasaga (c. ii. 8)

relates that a giantess, Hrimnir's daughter, first dwelt in Asgard as

the maid-servant of Frigg, then on earth, and that she, during her

sojourn on earth, became the wife of a king, and with him the mother and

grandmother of were-wolves, who infested the woods and murdered men. The

fantastic and horrible saga about these were-wolves has, in Christian

times and by Christian authors been connected with the poems about Helge

Hundingsbane and Sigurd Fafnersbane. The circumstance that the giantess

in question first dwelt in Asgard and thereupon in Midgard, indicates

that she is identical with Gulveig-Heid, and this identity is confirmed

by the statement that she is a daughter of the giant Hrimnir.

The myth, as it has come down to our days, knows only one daughter of

this giant, and she is the same as Gulveig-Heid. Hyndluljod states that

Heidr is Hrimnir's daughter, and mentions no sister of hers, but, on

the other hand, a brother Hrossthiofr (Heidr ok Hrorsthiofr Hrimnis

kindar--Hyndl., 30). In allusion to the cremation of Gulveig-Heid fire

is called in Thorsdrapa Hrimnis drosar lyptisylgr, "the lifting drink

of Hrimner's daughter," the drink which Heid lifted up on spears had to

drink. Nowhere is any other daughter of Hrimner mentioned. And while it

is stated in the above-cited strophe that the giantess who caused the

war in Asgard and became the mother of fenris-wolves was a vala on

Varin's Isle (vaulva i Varinseyio), a comparison of Helgakv. Hund., i.

26, with Volsungasaga, c. 2, shows that Varin's Isle and Varin's Fjord

were located in that very country, where Hrimner's daughter was supposed

to have been for some time the wife of a king and to have given birth to


Thus we have found that the three characteristic points--

unsuccessful cremation of an evil giantess,

her regeneration after the cremation,

the same woman as mother of the Fenrer race--

are common to Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda.

Their identity is apparent from various other circumstances, but may be

regarded as completely demonstrated by the proofs given. Gulveig's

activity in antiquity as the founder of the diabolical magic art, as one

who awakens man's evil passions and produces strife in Asgard itself,

has its complement in Angerboda's activity as the mother and nourisher

of that class of beings in whose members witchcraft, thirst for blood,

and hatred of the gods are personified. The activity of the evil

principle has, in the great epic of the myth, formed a continuity

spanning all ages, and this continuous thread of evil is twisted from

the treacherous deeds of Gulveig and Loke, the feminine and the

masculine representatives of the evil principle. Both appear at the dawn

of mankind: Loke has already at the beginning of time secured access to

Alfather (Lokasenna, 9), and Gulveig deceives the sons of men already in

the time of Heimdal's son Borgar. Loke entices Idun from the secure

grounds of Asgard, and treacherously delivers her to the powers of

frost; Gulveig, as we shall see, plays Freyja into the hands of the

giants. Loke plans enmity between the gods and the forces of nature,

which hitherto had been friendly, and which have their personal

representatives in Ivalde's sons; Gulveig causes the war between the

Asas and Vans. The interference of both is interrupted at the close of

the mythic age, when Loke is chained, and Gulveig, in the guise of

Angerboda, is an exile in the Ironwood. Before this they have for a time

been blended, so to speak, into a single being, in which the feminine

assuming masculineness, and the masculine effeminated, bear to the world

an offspring of foes to the gods and to creation. Both finally act their

parts in the destruction of the world. Before that crisis comes

Angerboda has fostered that host of "sons of world-ruin" which Loke is

to lead to battle, and a magic sword which she has kept in the Ironwood

is given to Surt, in whose hand it is to be the death of Frey, the lord

of harvests (see Nos. 89, 98, 101, 103).

That the woman who in antiquity, in various guises, visited Asgard and

Midgard was believed to have had her home in the Ironwood[18] of the

East during the historical age down to Ragnarok is explained by what

Saxo says--viz., that Odin, after his return and reconciliation with the

Vans, banished the agents of the black art both from heaven and from

earth. Here, too, the connection between Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda is

manifest. The war between the Asas and Vans was caused by the burning of

Gulveig by the former. After the reconciliation with the Asas this

punishment cannot again be inflicted on the regenerated witch. The Asas

must allow her to live to the end of time; but both the clans of gods

agree that she must not show her face again in Asgard or Midgard. The

myth concerning the banishment of the famous vala to the Ironwood, and

of the Loke progeny which she there fosters, has been turned into

history by Jordanes in his De Goth. Origine, ch. 24, where it is

stated that a Gothic king compelled the suspected valas (haliorunas)

found among his people to take their refuge to the deserts in the East

beyond the Moeotian Marsh, where they mixed with the wood-sprites, and

thus became the progenitors of the Huns. In this manner the Christian

Goths got from their mythic traditions an explanation of the source of

the eastern hosts of horsemen, whose ugly faces and barbarous manners

seemed to them to prove an other than purely human origin. The vala

Gulveig-Heid and her like become in Jordanes these haliorunae; Loke and

the giants of the Ironwood become these wood-sprites; the Asa-god who

caused the banishment becomes a king, son of Gandaricus Magnus (the

great ruler of the Gandians, Odin), and Loke's and Angerboda's wonderful

progeny become the Huns.

Stress should be laid on the fact that Jordanes and Saxo have in the

same manner preserved the tradition that Odin and the Asas, after making

peace and becoming reconciled with the Vans, do not apply the

death-penalty and burning to Gulveid-Heid-Angerboda and her kith and

kin, but, instead, sentence them to banishment from the domains of gods

and men. That the tradition preserved in Saxo and Jordanes corresponded

with the myth is proved by the fact that we there rediscover

Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda with her offspring in the Ironwood, which was

thought to be situated in the utmost East, far away from the human

world, and that she remains there undisturbed until the destruction of

the world. The reconciliation between the Asas and Vans has, as this

conclusively shows, been based on an admission on the part of the Asas

that the Vans had a right to find fault with and demand satisfaction for

the murder of Gulveig-Heid. Thus the dispute which caused the war

between Asas and Vans was at last decided to the advantage of the

latter, while they on their part, after being satisfied, reinstate Odin

in his dignity as universal ruler and father of the gods.

(b) Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda identical with Aurboda.

In the Ironwood dwells Angerboda, together with a giant, who is gygjar

hirdir, the guardian and watcher of the giantess. He has charge of her

remarkable herds, and also guards a sword brought to the Ironwood. This

vocation has given him the epithet Egther (Egtherr--Voeluspa), which

means sword-guardian. Saxo speaks of him as Egtherus, an ally of Finns,

skilled in magic, and a chief of Bjarmians, equally skilful in magic

(cp. Hist., 248, 249, with Nos. 52, 53). Bjarmians and Finns are in

Saxo made the heirs of the wicked inhabitants of Jotunheim. Vilkinasaga

knows him by the name Etgeir, who watches over precious implements in

Isung's wood. Etgeir is a corruption of Egther, and Isung's wood is a

reminiscence of Isarnvidr, Isarnho, the Ironwood. In the Vilkinasaga

he is the brother of Vidolf. According to Hyndluljod, all the valas of

the myth come from Vidolf. As Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is the chief of all

valas, and the teacher of the arts practised by the valas this statement

in Hyndluljod makes us think of her particularly; and as Hrimnir's

daughter has been born and burnt several times, she may also have had

several fathers. Among them, then, is Vidolf, whose character, as

described by Saxo, fits well for such a daughter. He is a master in

sorcery, and also skilful in the art of medicine. But the medical art he

practises in such a manner that those who seek his help receive from him

such remedies as do harm instead of good. Only by threats can he be made

to do good with his art (Hist., 323, 324). The statement in

Vilkinasaga compared with that in Hyndluljod seems therefore to point

to a near kinship between Angerboda and her sword-guard. She appears to

be the daughter of his brother.

In Voeluspa's description of the approach of Ragnarok, Egther Angerboda's

shepherd, is represented as sitting on a mound--like Aurboda's shepherd

in Skirnisfoer--and playing a harp, happy over that which is to happen.

That the giant who is hostile to the gods, and who is the guardian of

the strange herds, does not play an idyl on the strings of his harp does

not need to be stated. He is visited by a being in the guise of the red

cock. The cock, says Voeluspa, is Fjalarr (str. 44).

What the heathen records tell us about Fjalar is the following:[19]

(a) He is the same giant as the Younger Edda (i. 144 ff.) calls

Utgard-Loke. The latter is a fire-giant, Loge's, the fire's ruler

(Younger Edda, 152), the cause of earthquakes (Younger Edda, 144), and

skilled in producing optical delusions. Fjalar's identity with

Utgard-Loke is proved by Harbardsljod, str. 26, where Thor, on his way

to Fjalar, meets with the same adventures as, according to the Younger

Edda, he met with on his way to Utgard-Loke.

(b) He is the same giant as the one called Suttung. The giant from whom

Odin robs the skaldic mead, and whose devoted daughter Gunlad he causes

bitter sorrow, is called in Havamal sometimes Fjalar and sometimes

Suttung (cp. strs. 13, 14, 104, 105).

(c) Fjalar is the son of the chief of the fire-giants, Surtr, and

dwells in the subterranean dales of the latter. A full account of this

in No. 89. Here it will suffice to point out that when Odin flies out of

Fjalar's dwelling with the skaldic mead, it is "from Surt's deep dales"

that he "flying bears" the precious drink (hinn er Surts or soekkdoelum

farmagnudr fljugandi bar, a strophe by Eyvind, quoted in the Younger

Edda, p. 242), and that this drink while it remained with Fjalar was

"the drink of Surt's race" (Sylgr Surts aettar, Fornms., iii. 3).

(d) Fjalar, with Froste, takes part in the attack of Thjasse's kinsmen

and the Skilfings from Svarin's Mound against "the land of the clayey

plains, to Jaravall" (Voeluspa, 14, 15; see Nos. 28, 32). Thus he is

allied with the powers of frost, who are foes of the gods, and who seek

to conquer the Teutonic domain. The approach of the fimbul-winter was

also attended by an earthquake (see Nos. 28, 81).

When, therefore, Voeluspa makes Fjalar on his visit to the sword-guardian

in the Ironwood appear in the guise of the red cock, then this is in

harmony with Fjalar's nature as a fire-giant and as a son of Surt.

Sat thar a haugi

oc slo haurpo

gygjar hirthir

gladr Egther.

Gol um hanom

i galgvithi

fagrraudr hani

sa er Fjalar heitir (Voelusp., 41).

The red cock has from time immemorial been the symbol of fire as a

destructive power.

That what Odin does against Fjalar--when he robs him of the mead, which

in the myth is the most precious of all drinks, and when he deceived his

daughter--is calculated to awaken Fjalar's thirst for revenge and to

bring about a satisfaction sooner or later, lies in the very spirit of

Teutonic poetry and ethics, especially since, Odin's act, though done

from a good motive, was morally reprehensible. What Fjalar's errand to

Angerboda's sword-guard was appears from the fact that when the last war

between the gods and their enemies is fought a short time afterwards,

Fjalar's father, the chief of the fire-giants, Surt, is armed with the

best of the mythical weapons, the sword which had belonged to a

valtivi, one of the gods of Asgard (Voelusp., 50), and which casts the

splendour of the sun upon the world. The famous sword of the myth, that

which Thjasse finished with a purpose hostile to the gods (see No. 87

and elsewhere), the sword concealed by Mimer (see Nos. 87, 98, 101), the

sword found by Svipdag (see Nos. 89, 101, 103), the sword secured

through him by Frey, the one given by Frey to Gymer and Aurboda in

exchange for Gerd,--this sword is found again in the Ragnarok conflict,

wielded by Surt, and causes Frey's death (Voeluspa), it having been

secured by Surt's son, Fjalar, in the Ironwood from Angerboda's


Gulli keypta

leztu Gymis dottur

oc seldir thitt sva sverth;

Enn er Muspells synir

rida myrcvith yfir

veizta thu tha, vesall, hve thu vegr (Lokas., 42).

This passage not only tells us that Frey gave his sword in exchange for

Gerd to the parents of the giantess, Gymer and Aurboda, but also gives

us to understand that this bargain shall cause his death in Ragnarok.

This bride-purchase is fully described in Skirnismal, in which poem we

learn that the gods most unwillingly part with the safety which the

incomparable sword secured to Asgard. They yield in order to save the

life of the harvest-god, who was wasting away with longing and anxiety,

but not until the giants had refused to accept other Asgard treasures,

among them the precious ring Draupner, which the Asa-father once laid on

the pulseless breast of his favourite son Balder. At the approach of

Ragnarok, Surt's son, Fjalar, goes to the Ironwood to fetch for his

father the sword by which Frey, its former possessor, is to fall. The

sword is then guarded by Angerboda's shepherd, and consequently belongs

to her. In other words, the sword which Aurboda enticed Frey to give her

is now found in the possession of Angerboda. This circumstance of itself

is a very strong reason for their identity. If there were no other

evidence of their identity than this, a sound application of methodology

would still bid us accept this identity rather than explain the matter

by inventing a new, nowhere-supported myth, and thus making the sword

pass from Aurboda to another giantess.

When we now add the important fact in the disposition of this matter,

that Aurboda's son-in-law, Frey, demands, in behalf of a near kinsman,

satisfaction from the Asas when they had killed and burnt

Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, then it seems to me that there can be no doubt

in regard to the identity of Aurboda and Angerboda, the less so, since

all that our mythic fragments have to tell us about Gymer's wife

confirms the theory that she is the same person. Aurboda has, like

Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, practised the arts of sorcery: she is one of the

valas of the evil giant world. This is told to us in a strophe by the

skald Refr, who calls her "Gymer's primeval cold vala" (ursvoel Gymis

voelva--Younger Edda, i. 326, 496). She might be called "primeval cold"

(ursvoel) from the fact that the fire was not able to pierce her heart

and change it to ashes, in spite of a threefold burning. Under all

circumstances, the passage quoted informs us that she is a vala.

But have our mythic fragments preserved any allusion to show that

Aurboda, like Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, ever dwelt among the gods in

Asgard? Asgard is a place where giants are refused admittance.

Exceptions from this prohibition must have been very few, and the myths

must have given good reasons for them. We know in regard to Loke's

appearance in Asgard, that it is based on a promise given him by the

Asa-father in time's morning; and the promise was sealed with blood

(Lokasenna, 9). If, now, this Aurboda, who, like Angerboda, is a vala of

giant race, and like Angerboda, is the owner of Frey's sword, and, like

Angerboda, is a kinswoman of the Vans--if now this same Aurboda, in

further likeness with Angerboda, was one of the certainly very few of

the giant class who was permitted to enter within the gates of Asgard,

then it must be admitted that this fact absolutely confirms their


Aurboda did actually dwell in Asgard. Of this we are assured by the poem

"Fjoelsvinsmal." There it is related that when Svipdag came to the gates

of Asgard to seek and find Menglad-Freyja, who was destined to be his

wife (see Nos. 96, 97), he sees Menglad sitting on a hill surrounded by

goddesses, whose very names Eir, Bjoert, Blid, and Frid, tell us

that they are goddesses of lower or higher rank. Eir is an asynja of

the healing art (Younger Edda, i. 114). Bjoert, Blid, and Frid are

the dises of splendour, benevolence, and beauty. They are mighty beings,

and can give aid in distress to all who worship them (Fjolsv., 40). But

in the midst of this circle of dises, who surround Menglad, Svipdag also

sees Aurboda (Fjolsv., 38).

Above them Svipdag sees Mimer's tree--the world-tree (see No. 97),

spreading its all-embracing branches, on which grow fruits which soothe

kelisjukar konur and lighten the entrance upon terrestrial life for

the children of men (Fjolsv., 22). Menglad-Freyja is, as we know, the

goddess of love and fertility, and it is Frigg's and her vocation to

dispose of these fruits for the purposes for which they are intended.

The Volsungasaga has preserved a record concerning these fruits, and

concerning the giant-daughter who was admitted to Asgard as a

maid-servant of the goddesses. A king and queen had long been married

without getting any children. They beseeched the gods for an heir.

Frigg heard their prayers and sent them in the guise of a crow the

daughter of the giant Hrimner, a giantess who had been adopted in Asgard

as Odin's "wish-may." Hrimner's daughter took an apple with her, and

when the queen had eaten it, it was not long before she perceived that

her wish would come to pass (Volsungasaga, pp. 1, 2). Hrimner's daughter

is, as we know, Gulveig-Heid.

Thus the question whether Aurboda ever dwelt in Asgard is answered in

the affirmative. We have discovered her, though she is the daughter of a

giant, in the circle around Menglad-Freyja, where she has occupied a

subordinate position as maid-servant. At the same time we have found

that Gulveig-Heid has for some time had an occupation in Asgard of

precisely the same kind as that which belongs to a dis serving under the

goddess of fertility. Thus the similarity between Aurboda and

Gulveig-Heid is not confined to the fact that they, although giantesses,

dwelt in Asgard, but they were employed there in the same manner.

The demonstration that Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is identical with Aurboda

may now be regarded as complete. Of the one as of the other it is

related that she was a vala of giant-race, that she nevertheless dwelt

for some time in Asgard, and was there employed by Frigg or Freyja in

the service of fertility, and that she possessed the sword, which had

formerly belonged to Frey, and by which Frey is to fall. Aurboda is

Frey's mother-in-law, consequently closely related to him; and it must

have been in behalf of a near relation that Frey and Njord demanded

satisfaction from the Asas when the latter slew Gulveig-Heid. Under such

circumstances it is utterly impossible from a methodological standpoint

to regard them otherwise than identical. We must consider that nearly

all mythic characters are polyonomous, and that the Teutonic mythology,

particularly, on account of its poetics, is burdened with a

highly-developed polyonomy.

But of Gulveig-Heid's and Aurboda's identity there are also other proofs

which, for the sake of completeness, we will not omit.

So far as the very names Gulveig and Aurboda are concerned the one can

serve as a paraphrase of the other. The first part of the name

Aurboda, the aur of many significations may be referred to eyrir,

pl. aurar, which means precious metal, and is thought to be borrowed

from the Latin aurum (gold). Thus Gull and Aur correspond. In the

same manner veig in Gulveig can correspond to boda in Aurboda.

Veig means a fermenting liquid. Boda has two significations. It can

be the feminine form of bodi, meaning fermenting water, froth, foam.

No other names compounded with boda occur in Norse literature than

Aurboda and Angrboda.

Ynglingasaga[20] (ch. 4) relates a tradition that Freyja kendi fyrst

med Asum seid, that Freyja was the first to practise sorcery in Asgard.

There is no doubt that the statement is correct. For we have seen that

Gulveig-Heid, the sorceress and spreader of sorcery in antiquity,

succeeded in getting admission to Asgard, and that Aurboda is mentioned

as particularly belonging to the circle of serving dises who attended

Freyja. As this giantess was so zealous in spreading her evil arts among

the inhabitants of Midgard, it would be strange if the myth did not make

her, after she had gained Freyja's confidence, try to betray her into

practising the same arts. Doubtless Voeluspa and Saxo have reference to

Gulveig-Heid-Aurboda when they say that Freyja, through some treacherous

person among her attendants, was delivered into the hands of the giants.

In his historical account relating how Freyja (Syritha) was robbed

from Asgard and came to the giants but was afterwards saved from their

power, Saxo (Hist., 331; cp. No. 100) tells that a woman, who was

secretly allied with a giant, had succeeded in ingratiating herself in

her favour, and for some time performed the duties of a maid-servant at

her home; but this she did in order to entice her in a cunning manner

away from her safe home to a place where the giant lay in ambush and

carried her away to the recesses of his mountain country. (Gigas

faeminam subornat, quae cum obtenta virginis familiaritate, ejus

aliquamdiu pedissequam egisset, hanc tandem a paternis procul penatibus,

quaesita callidius digressione, reduxit; quam ipse mox irruens in

arctiora montanae crepidinis septa devexit.) Thus Saxo informs us that

it was a woman among Freyja's attendants who betrayed her, and that this

woman was allied with the giant world, which is hostile to the gods,

while she held a trusted servant's place with the goddess. Aurboda is

the only woman connected with the giants in regard to whom our mythic

records inform us that she occupied such a position with Freyja; and as

Aurboda's character and part, played in the epic of the myth, correspond

with such an act of treason, there is no reason for assuming the mere

possibility, that the betrayer of Freyja may have been some one else,

who is neither mentioned nor known.

With this it is important to compare Voeluspa, 26, 27, which not only

mentions the fact that Freyja came into the power of the giants through

treachery, but also informs us how the treason was punished:

Tha gengo regin oll

A raukstola,

ginheilog god

oc um that gettuz

hverir hefdi lopt alt

levi blandit

etha ett iotuns

Oths mey gefna

thorr ein thar va

thrungin modi,

hann sialdan sitr

er hann slict um fregn.

These Voeluspa lines stand in Codex Regius in immediate connection with

the above-quoted strophes which speak of Gulveig-Heid and of the war

caused by her between the Asas and Vans. They inform us that the gods

assembled to hold a solemn counsel to find out "who had filled all the

air with evil," or "who had delivered Freyja to the race of giants;" and

that the person found guilty was at once slain by Thor, who grew most


Now if this person is Gulveig-Aurboda, then it follows that she

received her death-blow from Thor's hammer, before the Asas made in

common the unsuccessful attempt to change her body into ashes. We also

find elsewhere in our mythic records that an exceedingly dangerous woman

met with precisely this fate. There she is called Hyrrokin. A strophe

by Thorbjorn Disarskald preserved in the Younger Edda, states that

Hyrrokin was one of the giantesses slain by Thor. But the very

appellation Hyrrokin, which must be an epithet of a giantess known by

some other more common name indicates that some effort worthy of being

remembered in the myth had been made to burn her, but that the effort

resulted in her being smoked (roekt) rather than that she was burnt;

for the epithet Hyrrokin means the "fire-smoked." For those familiar

with the contents of the myth, this epithet was regarded as plain enough

to indicate who was meant. If it is not, therefore, to be looked upon as

an unhappy and misleading epithet, it must refer to the thrice in vain

burnt Gulveig. All that we learn about Hyrrokin confirms her identity

with Aurboda. In the symbolic-allegorical work of art, which toward the

close of the tenth century decorated a hall at Hjardarholt, and of which

I shall give a fuller account elsewhere, the storm which from the land

side carried Balder's ship out on the sea is represented by the giantess

Hyrrokin. In the same capacity of storm-giantess carrying sailors out

upon the ocean appears Gymer's wife, Aurboda, in a poem by Refr;

Faerir bjoern, thar er bara

brestr, undinna festa,

Opt i AEgis kjopta

ursvoel Gymis voelva.

"Gymer's ancient-cold vala often carries the ship amid breaking billows

into the jaws of AEgir." Gymer, Aurboda's husband, represents in the

physical interpretation of the myth the east wind coming from the

Ironwood. From the other side of Eystrasalt (the Baltic) Gymer sings his

song (Ynglingasaga, 36); and the same gale belongs to Aurboda, for AEgir,

into whose jaws she drives the ships, is the great open western ocean.

That Aurboda represents the gale from the east finds its natural

explanation in her identity with Angerboda "the old," who dwells in the

Ironwood in the uttermost east, "Austr byr hin alldna i iarnvithi"


The result of the investigation is that Gullveig-Heidr, Aurboda, and

Angrboda are different names for the different hypostases of the

thrice-born and thrice-burnt one, and that Hyrrokin, "the

fire-smoked," is an epithet common to all these hypostases.

[Footnote 18: In Voeluspa the wood is called both Jarnvidr, Gaglvidr

(Cod. Reg.), and Galgvidr (Cod. Hauk.). It may be that we here have a

fossil word preserved in Voeluspa meaning metal. Perhaps the wood was a

copper or bronze forest before it became an iron wood. Compare

ghalgha, ghalghi (Fick., ii. 578) = metal, which, again, is to be

compared with Chalkos. = copper, bronze.]

[Footnote 19: In Bragaraedur's pseudo-mythic account of the Skaldic

mead (Younger Edda, 216 ff.) the name Fjalarr also appears. In regard

to the value of this account, see the investigation in No. 89.]

[Footnote 20: Ynglingasaga is the opening chapters of Snorre Sturlason's